Okay, so Latin isn’t the root of all English. After all, we can’t forget to thank Shakespeare who single-handedly coined more than 1,700 of the common English words we use today. But, seriously, English is a Germanic language in its origin with later Norse influence from the Viking invasions and still later Latin and Greek influences from the introduction of Christianity. The evolution of language is fascinating, but I must admit I never really spent much time wondering how our language evolved. I mean, I knew English had lots of root words from ancient languages that morphed over time into the words we speak today. After all, language is alive and changing all the time. Well, that is unless you’re talking about Latin. That’s why this “dead” language is perfect for scientific terminology. It’s a universal, unchanging way to label things.
I never gave a thought to learning Latin (beyond my university botany and zoology classes, that is, where it took center stage for taxonomical purposes); but seeing so many homeschoolers rave about the benefits of their kids learning Latin piqued my interest. We are studying French as our primary foreign language in our homeschool, but I thought it might be a good idea to take a few small steps into Latin this year with my 9 year old daughter, C-Bear. Technically we are not learning it as a language, grammar and all. My aim this year is for her to learn 100 Greek and Latin words that many of our English words spring from. We are using the word list from English from the Roots Up Volume 1. Perhaps she’ll do Volume II next year. We’re not sure yet.
Inspired by a free download by Steve Gipson at Teachers Pay Teachers, here’s how I’ve tried to make it fun for her and help those words to “stick.” We actually started this in the final term last year, doing about one word per week. So this year we are on track to finish 100 words by learning two per week. She has a photo album that fits 4X6 pictures to keep her words in. For each new word, she uses a blank 4X6 card to write the word (and any pronunciation helps) across the top. Then she thinks of something to draw that will help jog her memory to the meaning of the word, WITHOUT WRITING THE MEANING. The definition, she prints on the back of the card so she can peek if she needs help; but the point of this exercise is to embed the meaning in her memory in a creative way. She dreams up the picture, and it becomes her association. It’s one of those albums with space along the side to write notes, so that’s where she writes a list of English words that use that particular root in some way, also making a note of whether it’s a Greek or Latin word.
I also found these great free printable flash cards with lots of fun game ideas to aid us in review.
PJ finds it fascinating. We often chat at mealtime about the possible meaning of words based on what roots we think they use. So, although we are not opting to learn Latin in all its dead and delicate details, I can see how this little exercise we are implementing will definitely help C-Bear decipher new words she comes across in her reading by dissecting them according to the roots she is learning.